Nobody says “Life begins at 50.” Maybe they will someday, but they don’t do it yet. The understanding is that when you reach the half-century mark, you are supposed to have something to show for it. You don’t have to be rich or famous, but you should have accomplished at least something along the way. You could have raised a family, built up a business, or gotten a letter to Penthousepublished. Pretty much anything will do,
I’m going to be hitting that particular milestone in August and I have had a few “What the fuck have I done with my life?” panic attacks as I close in on 50. For those who are younger than me, let me explain. These are very much like the “What the fuck am I doing with my life?” you experience as you approach your 40th birthday or the “What the fuck am I going to do with my life?” as you approach your 30th. In short, they suck.
I think what makes them so bad is that you can’t just dismiss them out of hand. No matter who you are and what sort of life you’ve led, there’s going to be some sliver of truth to them. We as a species just aren’t all that perfect. Fortunately, the converse is also true. You may be a failure, but you’re not a complete failure.
Most of us are somewhere in between and when our inner voice tells us we suck, there is plenty of ammo for both sides of that argument. It’s a completely pointless way to spend your energy and for those of you who have the mental fortitude to put that nonsense out of your mind, I admire and applaud you. For the rest of us, read on.